In this chapter God reassures Jesus that his first-coming mission to Israel was not a failure, but part of his plan to save the whole world through him. God then reassures earthly Zion that she will become like God's bride, and her children like jewels.
This chapter portrays God reassuring Jesus that his first-coming mission to Israel was not a failure, but part of his plan to save the whole world through him. God then reassures earthly Zion that she has not been abandoned, but will become like God's bride, and her children like jewels.

Verses 1 to 6 are addressed to the 'coastlands' or 'islands', to Gentiles in far away places, even in the remotest regions of the earth. It is as though Jesus is speaking over the heads of Israel. These verses are described by theologians as the 'second servant song'. The servant is primarily Jesus, but as in chapter 42, Israel is also in view as the servant. The servant has a double-identity. In chapter 42, Jesus is the model servant, whereas Israel is the rebellious servant who failed in her mission. Here in verses 1 to 6, Jesus speaks autobiographically, introducing himself and his ministry to the Gentile nations. He was summoned and commissioned by God from birth (v1). He is like God's hidden weapon, presumably in the war against sin and Satan (v2). His mouth is like a sharpened sword. This may indicate that his mission is one of verbal proclamation. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any double-edged sword, piercing even to the point of dividing soul from spirit, and joints from marrow; it is able to judge the desires and thoughts of the heart." But scripture also takes this as a picture of Christ's judgment at his second coming. Describing Jesus at the battle of Armageddon, Revelation 19:15 says, "From his mouth extends a sharp sword, so that with it he can strike the nations". There is also something hidden about his ministry. He is like a sharpened arrow hidden in God's quiver (v2). This suggests that the fullness of his ministry will not become apparent until the day of battle. Various end-time scriptures also portray Jesus using his voice as a weapon of judgment (search tags: Weapons of Jesus). In verse 3, Jesus is God's servant Israel through whom God will reveal his glory. Jesus is Israel's representative. God will reveal his glory both through Jesus and through Israel. In verse 4, Jesus expresses feelings of failure, as though his mission achieved nothing. In Matthew 15:24, Jesus said, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Because Israel rejected him, Jesus felt like his first-coming mission was a failure. But God promises to vindicate and reward him (v4). Verse 5 reveals that the apparent failure of Jesus' mission to Israel is actually part of God's plan to restore and save Israel. Ultimately, Jesus will be honoured in God's sight (v5). This will happen most clearly at Jesus' coronation (Daniel 7:13-14). In verse 6, God asks rhetorically whether it is too small a thing for Jesus to restore Israel. The implied answer is 'Yes'. God will also make him a light to the Gentiles, so that he can bring his deliverance (salvation) to the ends of the earth. So the apparent failure of Jesus' mission to the Jews is actually part of God's plan to save the whole world through Jesus.

In Acts 13:47, Paul considers Jesus' commission to the Gentiles as part of his own commission. Paul inherited Jesus' mission to the Gentiles in two ways. Firstly, as a Jew, he was a part of God's servant Israel. Secondly, in John 20:21, Jesus passed on his own mission to his followers, "Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you".

In verses 7 to 13, God responds in order to reassure his servant. Again, the servant is primarily Jesus, but also Israel. God is the protector (redeemer) and Holy One of Israel. He addresses the servant who is despised and rejected by the nation (v7). Nation is singular in the Hebrew, referring primarily to the nation of Israel. As John 1:11 says, "He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him". He is a servant of rulers (v7). As Matthew 20:28 says, "…the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve". But one day, kings will rise in respect and princes bow down to Jesus as God's chosen one (v7). At the same time, these verses imply that the nations will honour God's servant Israel, whom they had previously despised and rejected. In verse 8, God tells Jesus that in the day of deliverance (salvation) he will respond to Jesus and make him a covenant mediator. He will rebuild the land and reassign (or take possession of) desolate property (heritages). This is a picture of God restoring the whole land of Israel to its people, including parts that have become desolate.

Jesus will release prisoners (v9). According to Zechariah 14:2, when Antichrist conquers Jerusalem, half the city will go into exile and half will remain in the city. Isaiah 14:17 describes the Antichrist as "the one who made the world like a desert, who ruined its cities, and refused to free his prisoners so they could return home". It is likely that he will use his Jewish captives as human shields to protect Jerusalem. Jesus will release them when he defeats Antichrist at Armageddon and liberates Jerusalem. To release captives was part of Jesus' manifesto (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1). This was partly fulfilled in his first-coming ministry when he released people from spiritual captivity to sin and demonic bondage. But it will be fulfilled more literally in the end-times when he releases those who have been imprisoned by the Antichrist. These freed prisoners are pictured as sheep who can now graze freely (v9). Jesus will have compassion on them and guide and lead them (v10).

Jesus will turn mountains into roadways (v11), to facilitate the return of his people to Israel. Verse 12 says they will come from north and west, and from the land of Sinim. The context would suggest that Sinim represents people from either the east or south. Some scholars identify this with China (east), and others with Aswan in Egypt (to the south). Verse 13 commands the earth, sky and mountains to shout and rejoice over the way God consoles his people. Mountains here may be both literal and metaphorical, symbolising the kingdoms of the world.

Verses 7 to 13 will find their ultimate fulfilment in the end-times after Jesus defeats the Antichrist and saves Israel. However, in a spiritual sense, the Apostle Paul saw them as applying to God's salvation that Jesus has made available in this present age. In 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, he quotes verse 8 saying, "Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!" Although the last days primarily refer to the end of this age when Jesus returns, we need to remember that at another level, the last days began when God poured out his Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2).

In verse 14, Zion (representing Jerusalem personified, and Israel in general) expresses feelings of abandonment by God. Jesus, who embodied Israel's servant ministry, also expressed this feeling when hanging on the cross (Psalm 22:1 and Matthew 27:46).

In verses 15 to 26, God responds in order to reassure Zion. God can no more forget Zion than a mother forget her baby (v15). Zion is inscribed on his palms (v16). Zion's children are going to hurry back to her, while her enemies all leave (v17). Zion will be like a bride, and her children like her jewellery (v18) - see Revelation 21:2. God confirms that yes, earthly Zion lies in ruins (as it will at the end of the Great Tribulation). But Jerusalem as we know it today would be too small to hold all the Jews who will return to it (v19-20). The implication is that millennial Zion will be rebuilt and will be much larger. Zion expresses amazement at the great number of her children, wondering where they all came from. She pictures herself as a widow, or divorced woman, so who bore all these children? (v21). God is going to raise a banner to the nations, and they will respond by carrying the Jews back to Israel (v22). It is likely that by this point, God has made himself known not just to the Jews who are scattered among the nations, but also to the lost tribes of Israel. This contributes to Zion's amazement at the sheer number of her children. Kings and princesses will serve Zion's children and bow down to them. This will make Israel truly recognise Jesus as their Lord (v23). Jesus will defeat Israel's adversary, the Antichrist. He is going to rescue his people, who will be like spoils of war taken from defeated enemy nations (v24-25). Israel's oppressors will drink their own blood, metaphorically. And God's deliverance of Israel will cause all mankind to recognise Jesus as Saviour (v26). Although partial fulfilment of this passage may be understood in the return of the exiles from Babylon in the 6th and 5th centuries BC, the circumstances of their return certainly did not cause all mankind to recognise Jehovah as saviour. The complete fulfilment of this passage will occur in the end times.

It is also helpful to understand that verses 15 to 26 are a portrayal of millennial Zion, which is distinct from heavenly Zion. After Christian believers are resurrected and raptured at the last trumpet, they will live in heavenly Zion. But during the Millennium, there will also be the earthly city of Zion which is in view here. Most Jews are not Christians, and will not be raptured. Instead, they will remain on earth and will populate earthly Zion. At the end of the Millennium, the earth will be destroyed and replaced by the New Earth. The New Jerusalem will then descend and rest upon the New Earth.
Places: Zion, Jerusalem, Israel, Millennial Zion, Sinim, China, Aswan
Symbols: Bride of Christ, Children like jewels, Bride
Tags: God reassures Jesus, God reassures earthly Zion, Millennium, Jesus a light to the Gentiles, Israel rejects Jesus, Return of exiles to Israel, End-time exodus, Lost tribes of Israel, Weapons of Jesus, Voice of Jesus, Jesus expresses feelings of failure, Israel expresses feelings of abandonment, Nations serve millennial Israel, God loves Israel, Fall of Jerusalem, Jesus raises a banner, Israel like a widow, Israel like a divorced woman, Jesus as the servant, Second servant song, End-time bride
Ideal Israel Delivers the Exiles
1 Listen to me, you coastlands! Pay attention, you people who live far away! The Lord summoned me from birth; he commissioned me when my mother brought me into the world.
2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, he hid me in the hollow of his hand; he made me like a sharpened arrow, he hid me in his quiver.
3 He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, through whom I will reveal my splendor.”
4 But I thought, “I have worked in vain; I have expended my energy for absolutely nothing.” But the Lord will vindicate me; my God will reward me.
5 So now the Lord says, the one who formed me from birth to be his servant – he did this to restore Jacob to himself, so that Israel might be gathered to him; and I will be honored in the Lord’s sight, for my God is my source of strength –
6 he says, “Is it too insignificant a task for you to be my servant, to reestablish the tribes of Jacob, and restore the remnant of Israel? I will make you a light to the nations, so you can bring my deliverance to the remote regions of the earth.”

This is what the Lord, the protector of Israel, their Holy One, says to the one who is despised and rejected by nations, a servant of rulers: “Kings will see and rise in respect, princes will bow down, because of the faithful Lord, the Holy One of Israel who has chosen you.”
8 This is what the Lord says: “At the time I decide to show my favor, I will respond to you; in the day of deliverance I will help you; I will protect you and make you a covenant mediator for people, to rebuild the land and to reassign the desolate property.
9 You will say to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’ and to those who are in dark dungeons, ‘Emerge.’ They will graze beside the roads; on all the slopes they will find pasture.
10 They will not be hungry or thirsty; the sun’s oppressive heat will not beat down on them, for one who has compassion on them will guide them; he will lead them to springs of water.
11 I will make all my mountains into a road; I will construct my roadways.”
12 Look, they come from far away! Look, some come from the north and west, and others from the land of Sinim!
13 Shout for joy, O sky! Rejoice, O earth! Let the mountains give a joyful shout! For the Lord consoles his people and shows compassion to the oppressed.

The Lord Remembers Zion

14 “Zion said, ‘The Lord has abandoned me, the Lord has forgotten me.’
15 Can a woman forget her baby who nurses at her breast? Can she withhold compassion from the child she has borne? Even if mothers were to forget, I could never forget you!
16 Look, I have inscribed your name on my palms; your walls are constantly before me.
17 Your children hurry back, while those who destroyed and devastated you depart.
18 Look all around you! All of them gather to you. As surely as I live,” says the Lord, “you will certainly wear all of them like jewelry; you will put them on as if you were a bride.
19 Yes, your land lies in ruins; it is desolate and devastated. But now you will be too small to hold your residents, and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 Yet the children born during your time of bereavement will say within your hearing, ‘This place is too cramped for us, make room for us so we can live here.’
21 Then you will think to yourself, ‘Who bore these children for me? I was bereaved and barren, dismissed and divorced. Who raised these children? Look, I was left all alone; where did these children come from?’”
22 This is what the Sovereign Lord says: “Look I will raise my hand to the nations; I will raise my signal flag to the peoples. They will bring your sons in their arms and carry your daughters on their shoulders.
23 Kings will be your children’s guardians; their princesses will nurse your children. With their faces to the ground they will bow down to you and they will lick the dirt on your feet. Then you will recognize that I am the Lord; those who wait patiently for me are not put to shame.
24 Can spoils be taken from a warrior, or captives be rescued from a conqueror?
25 Indeed, ” says the Lord, “captives will be taken from a warrior; spoils will be rescued from a conqueror. I will oppose your adversary and I will rescue your children.
26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will get drunk on their own blood, as if it were wine. Then all humankind will recognize that I am the Lord, your deliverer, your protector, the Powerful One of Jacob.”